Two Majestic Trips…One Review!

Because I spend quite a bit of time in the casino when I cruise…and because I don’t often win…Royal Caribbean sometimes takes pity on me and gives me certificates for free cruises.  These are not big, fancy week long cruises on their big, fancy ships.  They are usually 3 or 4 day cruises on the older, smaller ships…but hey! They’re free!!

I had booked a cruise for February and wanted to take my father for his birthday (his birthday is really in October, and I made him a really cool card!) See:

Dad Card1

But then…In January, he found out that his work would not give him the time off so my brother got the spot instead.  (Dad gets a much better cruise later on, but you’ll have to wait for that one!)  So that is the first Majesty cruise.  A three night trip to Nassau and Cococay.  Certainly a quick trip, but Port Canaveral is not too bad a drive so easy enough for a weekend get-away

Then, I got another certificate in the mail for a free cruise so I hatched a plan to use this one for bribery!  I needed to pick up my son from college in Ft. Lauderdale and move him back home for the summer.  I drive a SUV, but my BIL drives a BIG SUV!  So I thought, “If I take him on the cruise, he will go with me the rest of the way from Port Canaveral to Ft. Lauderdale, help me move the kid out of the dorm, then we can split the drive back home!” It was a genius idea!  But that’s not how it worked out…It was even better than that!

You see, while we were on that first Majesty cruise, my brother earned a certificate for money off a future cruise so we decided to book a second cabin for the May four night cruise and bring Katie along as well!  Then I was able to get Jarod to convince a local college buddy to store some of his stuff over the summer, so now I didn’t need the big SUV.  It all worked out really well, mostly!

So since both cruises went to the same places, on the same ship I am going to combine them into one review…that may or may not work but we’ll see how it goes!

First up, a quick pit stop at Grills Seafood Deck & Tiki Bar. Why? Because boarding doesn’t start until 11am so what else are you supposed to do?  Everyone needs a pre-boarding drink!  And a quick picture!

2017-02-17_09-34-16_820 (2017-05-03T15_22_13.844)

The Majesty of the Seas is an older, smaller ship in Royal Caribbean’s fleet.  But they have made some upgrades, most notably on the pool deck where the addition of water slides was a big hit with the Under Six member of our party!

Another big hit with the Pre-K crowd was our stateroom attendant’s mastery of the famed “Towel Animal” left in the room after evening turndown service.  I am lucky that I have always had really good stateroom attendants and these two cruises were no different!  Here is one of our nightly visitors!

2017-05-02_19-27-42_315

As a quick side note…I left those sunglasses on the plane ride to Barcelona so if you flew American Airlines last month and found those awesome Minnie Mouse glasses in the seat pocket, can I have them back please?

But back to the Majesty.  Our itinerary was the same on both cruises but in different order.  In addition, the four day cruise also had a day at sea, while the three day cruise just had the port stops.  So first up…Cococay, Bahamas.  Royal Caribbean’s private island.  This is a tender port, which means you have to get off your big ship, onto a smaller ship in order to get to the island.  Really like a water taxi service.  Because of this, tender ports are susceptible to weather disruptions and are often missed.  We had amazing weather on both cruises so we were able to visit twice.

Here is what the Majesty looks like from the tender boat.  The water around the island is not deep enough for her to pull closer so she really does have to park a bit away.

2017-02-19_13-00-39_115

And that little boat by her side that looks like a barnacle is one of the tenders.  But they really are a nice little ride, provided the water is not choppy.  You can see our seas looked like glass. Nice and smooth!

2017-02-19_12-57-26_708

And here is a little part of the island.  This has been totally built by Royal Caribbean so everything and everyone on the island works for the cruise line.  This makes for a nice sanitized day at the beach, which is great and I really like Cococay, but sometimes I miss local flavors and stuff like that.  Still, it is beautiful.

2017-05-02_11-31-40_351

We had some cloud cover as you can see, but it never rained.  A newer addition to the island is the floating bar.  Basically a tiki hut that floats by the shore.  It is connected by a giant chain so if the water gets rough, they can reel it in.

2017-02-19_12-11-02_083

It does have a limit on how many people can be on it at one time…presumably so it doesn’t sink…so they kind of do a “one off, one on” scenario once it gets full.  I haven’t actually been out there yet, but it certainly looks cool!

Next up, we headed to Nassau.  If you have read my previous review of Nassau, you may grasp that I have not had the best of luck there! So sometimes I don’t even get off the ship anymore, but this May I had a goal…Pirate Republic Brewery.  It is right by the port and I love tasting local beers so that was my mission.  In addition, the beach soccer world cup was going on that week and while the day we were there was the rest day, so no games, I did want to see if I could find a t-shirt or something from the event…It is Soccer Mom Travels after all!

2017-05-03_07-39-53_608

Looks like we got the best parking spot!  And look!!! Right there!!  Pirate Republic Brewery!!  How close is that!!

2017-05-03_07-40-00_080

Off we headed to find soccer stuff then stop for a nice frosty local beer…ah the best laid plans.  Seems I have no luck in Nassau at all.  We tried to get a taxi over to the stadium since the vendors were telling us that the only place that would sell t-shirts like that were over at the stadium, but then the taxi driver said that the vendors wouldn’t even be open because there were no games.  Sigh.  Okay so that plan is shot…at least I still have my frosty local beer to look forward to, right??

Um. No.

2017-05-03_12-09-39_409

While I heartily applaud the policy of not drinking and voting, this would once again add to my luck in Nassau.  So once again I am leaving Nassau without doing any of the things I actually planned to do.  Lucky I still have two more trips scheduled with stops in Nassau.  I will get to you yet Pirate Republic!

Overall, I really do like these short cruises on the smaller ships.  I am very lucky to live within driving distance which makes it possible to do these.  Next up?  Freedom of the Seas in the Western Mediterranean.  Spoiler…Yes, it was as awesome as it sounds!

Advertisements

Part 8 (Kusadasi, Turkey) – Cruising Venice, The Greek Isles, and the Eastern Mediterranean

In the days leading up to this cruise, Turkey had a failed coup attempt.  With that in mind, many cruise ships were skipping or replacing stops in Turkey with either a sea day, or another port in the area.  Our cruise had made no announcement as to what the plan was at that point, and when asked, the officers stated that they were monitoring the situation and would let us know, but the plan was to stop in Turkey and in fact, Royal Caribbean had collected all non-EU passports per the Turkish governments request (standard procedure even before the coup attempt).

All this to say that until the day before our port stop in Kusadasi, we still had no idea if we were stopping or not.  I had reserved a taxi service through Taxi Service for Ephesus to take us from the port up to Ephesus.  I was wary of joining a traditional tour because I did not want to get bullied into a “demonstration” that often turns into a hard sell.  I had read that most organized tours have a stop either at a carpet weaver or a leather shop included in the tour, and in fact all of the ship sponsored tours had this included stop as well.  The carpet weavers in Turkey are some of the best in the world, but lets be honest…who has room in their luggage for carpeting?

So instead I reserved just a taxi to meet us at the port, drop us off at the top gate to Ephesus, and come back a few hours later and pick us up at the bottom gate.  I made the reservations via email, the price was agreed upon in advance and Hasan was very responsive and easy to work with.  In addition, his English was nearly perfect and I have no reservations recommending this company should you ever find yourself near Kusadasi port.

IMG_4907

It is a beautiful port area, hills rising steeply from the ocean with condos/apartments/hotels built all up the hillside.  That little tiny island out there?  Well that is the namesake, the actual Kusadasi – Bird Island.  Here is a better picture:

IMG_4901

There are shops and restaurants all along the pier so a very easy port to navigate by foot if all you are looking for is nosh and trinkets.  We however, were headed to Ephesus.

We walked out of the port area past armed guards.  We were told that we were the first cruise ship to stop at Kusadasi since the failed coup attempt, only 16 days prior.  It was very clear that the merchants were happy to have us (tourists) back.

At the taxi stand, we met Hasan and he directed us to our driver for the day.  He ensured that we had his number and knew how to reach him if necessary.  While Hasan’s English was excellent, our driver’s was not.  He tried really hard and he was so nice though that we hardly minded.  Ephesus is about 30km from Kusadasi through some lovely countryside.  Our driver pointed out some other local attractions along the way and tried to teach us the names of some of the fruits in Turkish!

When we reached the top gate, our driver found a friend that spoke English and we arranged a time to meet at the lower gate for pickup.  Our driver assured us that if we happened to be a few minutes late that he would certainly not leave us stranded!  We also purchased a guide book and some water…it is HOT in Turkey in July and we would come to find out, not much shade in Ephesus.

IMG_4060

So these ruins are a bit different than the ones in Athens or Olympia.  These ruins are being actively restored.  They are only using the original pieces that they find so different buildings are in different states of, well ruin.  The other thing that I love about Ephesus is how accessible everything is.  You can walk in, around, and through almost all of the building sites.

IMG_4044

We added the Terrace Houses to our admission.  These were the houses of the wealthy citizens of Ephesus and are currently being excavated and restored.  As we were there on a Sunday, no one was working but evidence of excavation was all around.  And the houses themselves were incredible!

IMG_4088IMG_4082IMG_4085

The color on the walls and the mosaics on the floors are so remarkably preserved.  It was an awesome thing to see and if you are ever in Ephesus, make sure you take the side tour into the Terrace Houses.  It is hot and there are a lot of stairs, but it is worth it!

Coming out of the Terrace Houses, you arrive at the restored facade to the Library of Celsus.  Its Stunning.

IMG_4094

This two story library was home to thousands of scrolls (you know…what books used to be!) making it the third largest library in the world in its day.  This building has been restored somewhat. But since they will only use original parts for restoration, it is never going to be fully restored.

Nearby is the Temple of Hadrian…we seem to have seen a lot of stuff dedicated to this guy!

IMG_4068

And of course, my favorite…the theaters!  There are several in Ephesus from smaller ones used for Senate meetings and such:

IMG_4026

I’ve heard that this guy Paul lived here around 50AD for a few years.  He gave daily talks to scholars here.  Those talks eventually became “Ephesians” in a pretty famous book…that’s impressive stuff!

To the massive ampitheater used for concerts as well as gladiator battles and other community building exercises!!

IMG_4112

This one seats approximately 25,000.  See that little black dot?  That’s my son.  He climbed all those stairs!!  I did not, in case you were wondering!!

The Commercial Agora is where business got done.  You can see in this picture the parts that have been unearthed but not restored to actual buildings.

IMG_4106

 So after a very warm yet amazing trip through history we made our way out the lower gates to meet our driver. If you EVER make it to Ephesus, take note: start at the top and walk downhill! We passed people going the other way and they really looked like they would welcome death. Remember it is hot…very hot. And there are no trees or shady spots to rest. Add to that an uphill climb and I can totally understand their open arming the grim reaper.

But forwarned is forarmed so we worked with gravity and not against it. And as we made our way out of the historic site, we invariably walked into vendor central. These guys are well aware of the demographics of their clientele and proudly touted their stock of chilled water bottles…or the one that won our hearts (and dollars) air conditioning!

One of the traditions we have as a family is that whatever country we visit, we buy the national team soccer jersey. So we were in the market for a Turkey jersey and as it happened, he had the air conditioning also!!
I find that very often I am faced with the stereotype of a woman not knowing her sports. This was very apparent in Turkey and I was VERY amused proving him wrong!! He took it in stride and in fact gave us a great deal on the jerseys once I proved my knowledge!

So having gotten our fill of history and our quota of Turkish soccer jerseys, we headed back to the port with our driver who was exactly where we said he would be waiting.

Back at the port we stopped to shop a bit and get something to eat. We had some of the best calamari I have ever had and when we stopped the owner to compliment the food, he simply pointed to the the water and said, “Of course it’s good. I caught it right there!”  

All in all, this was our favorite port so far and I am so glad we stopped. I would go back for a land vacation without hesitation!


Back on the boat, we visited our favvie post port bar for Aperol Spritzs. Our next port is Santorini. 

Could it really be as awesome as everyone said??

Back to the Future…Um Freedom

So it’s no secret that I love to cruise. I love the ease of having something for everyone available at any time. I really love traveling with family so I often need entertainment for multiple generations and cruising is the best way I’ve found to do that.  So. Having done the Eastern Caribbean only once in 2010 and having then done the Western route twice since then, once on Freedom, once on Allure, I decided it was time to head back to the Eastern side.  And since everyone liked the Freedom more than the Allure we picked a date and made reservations.

For this cruise, it would be me, OD, TJ, M&P, KT, Grandma and OD’s girlfriend, GF.  This would be GF’s first cruise ever.  She had just finished (successful) treatment for thyroid cancer so this was a great way to celebrate that.

Leading up to the cruise was a HUGE roll call on Cruise Critic.  Unbeknownst to us, this was going to be a reunion cruise for a large group that cruises together every year.  In addition,  Back to the Future Day would fall right in the middle of this cruise and everyone on the roll call board thought that would be a fantastic theme for the cruise.  We had shirts made and everything!!

BTF Cruise Shirt

These turned out to be the highlight of everyone’s cruise!  EVERYONE asked where we got them and it became something of a badge of honor to have one!  We even made one for the Captain!  Of the 8 in our group, 6 of us had these shirts (no kids sizes available for KT and they really aren’t Grandma’s style!) and we wore them on embarkation day.  So onto that!

Since there were so many of us going, we had to take two cars and since I love to visit places but I hate to drive we left on Friday after school and drove as far as Savannah, GA (just about halfway) where we stayed in the Double Tree Savannah Airport.  They have 2 room + sofa bed suites so there were 2 king beds plus a sofa bed.  Plenty for the 4 of us.  My car carried: me, OD, TJ and GF.  Mike & Peter were coming down a day later with KT and Grandma.

After an obligatory breakfast at Huey’s for beignets with homemade praline sauce (YUM!!) we were headed to Port Canaveral for our pre-sail meet up with the “Back to the Freedom” gang.  We arrived in Port Canaveral and headed straight for Fishlips to meet everyone and watch the Saturday sail away’s from the upper deck.

Then we were off to check into the Hampton Inn Cocoa Beach and wait for the second car to make it down.  They were leaving home on Saturday and driving straight through to Port Canaveral.  Not a terrible drive, 8 hours or so, but since we have already covered how much I dislike driving, splitting it up makes me a happier traveler…and beingnets!

On Sunday we were up and moving pretty early…NOT due to the excitement of the day.  TJ had apparently eaten something that did not agree with him and he was sick sick sick all night…it was bad…I tipped housekeeping A LOT.

But eventually we were on our way to check-in.  I was parking at the port, but Peter wasn’t so we worked it out so he would drop off luggage and people, then head back to the hotel, where he was parking and I would meet him there and take him back to the port and park.

FINALLY we were ready to check in!  We had all our paperwork ready to go and check in was a breeze.  It feels like we waited forever for boarding to start, but it couldn’t have been that bad because KT was changed and in the pool by 12:30 and I am SURE we all had drinks in hand by then!!

IMG_3869

So next up is the Muster drill.  TJ was chosen to be the example…or horrible warning depending on how well you know him!! 🙂  He did a fantastic job being the center of attention and off we went feeling much safer, thanks to him.

IMG_3680

As we sailed away from the port, the weather was starting to turn a little gray and overcast.  But we had a dolphin escort so I knew everything would be fine!

We were staying in an Oceanview cabin, two twin beds and a pullman for the third person.  In my cabin: me, TJ and GF.  OD and Grandma were staying in a balcony cabin and Mike, Peter & KT were in an Interior (when you book late you have to take whats left!) all on different decks.  I don’t think I would stay in a cabin with a pullman bed again.  If I need more than 2 beds, I will go with the sofa bed option.  TJ was in the pullman and his pillow kept falling off and onto my head in the middle of the night!  Here is what our window looked like…with a 4 year old for size comparisons!!

IMG_3682

You can kinda see behind KT that the seas were starting to kick up a bit…that would continue for a while.  In fact, we would miss Coco Cay because it was too rough to tender.  A shame because I really love Coco Cay and Grandma, GF, Mike & Peter and KT had never been there before.  Still…an extra sea day to get our money’s worth from the drink package!

IMG_3687

And here we are sailing past Coco Cay.  It really is a beautiful island, my favorite of the RCL private islands.  The water stayed pretty choppy for the whole of the next day.  I was on deck 3 and the waves were at eye level.  GF didn’t feel so hot, I had brought bronine and sea bands just in case so she tried those and felt better…eventually she found her sea legs (and the seas leveled out).  None of the rest of us had any trouble with the rocking and rolling, we could certainly feel it.  It was without a doubt the roughest seas I’d ever been it, but most all of the outside decks were closed so it was certainly noticeable.

Monday was a sea day, and the seas were rough so everyone found stuff inside to do, plenty of shows, shopping, eating, arcading, karaokeing, drinking and donating to the future ship fund (casino) kept everyone busy and happy!  In addition, we were going to get a couple of extra hours in St. Thomas since we would get there earlier than planned.  More on that later!

 

Freedom Sails…Day 5

Today we are in the Cayman Islands.  Grand Cayman to be specific and Georgetown to be even more specific.  This is the port I was most looking forward to, the only port on this itinerary that I had not already been to before.  I scheduled an excursion with Soto’s (http://www.sotoscruises.com/) for a two stop tour that includes Stingray City and the Coral Gardens.  This tour was $35/per person except KT, who was free but we had to bring our own life jacket for her as Soto’s does not have equipment for children that young, but they do provide both snorkel equipment and life jackets for everyone else.

I scheduled the early tour because I did not want to spend any time worrying that we would not make it back in time and have the ship leave without us.  I know, there are worse places to be stranded than Grand Cayman but we had reservations in Cozumel that we did not want to miss, so early tour it was.  That means early breakfast and early tender since Grand Cayman does not have a deep water pier for cruise ships.  Those going on the tour were me, OD, TJ, KT and P.  GM and M were going to get off the ship a little later, do some shopping in Georgetown and then meet back up with us when our tour returned to the dock.  Or at least that was the plan!

The group of us going on the tour got off the ship with no problems, found where we were supposed to meet our Soto’s representative and then fell victim to a pretty common occurrence in the Caymans…confusion over the time difference between the ship’s time and local time.  I had done my homework and knew about the time difference, but not everybody had.  One couple had messed up the day before and almost got left behind in Jamaica, so they were an hour early for the tour, we were on time, and one family was an hour late.  I am not good with late, I am rarely late and it is one of my biggest pet peeves, but I tried to understand that not everyone gets the time change.  So we waited.

When everyone had finally arrived, we piled into the van for the 10-15 minute ride to Soto’s office where we got our gear and all hopped on the boat.  It was about a 20 minute ride to our first stop, the Coral Gardens for some snorkeling.  OD broke his ankle in July and he had just gotten the cast off 2 days before we left so the doctor had warned him that while swimming was fine, not to use flippers, so he just had his mask.  TJ and I had full snorkel gear and for a bit KT came in with me to see the fishies.

The snorkeling was pretty good.  Lots of variety and plenty of color to see.  The water was clear as only the Caribbean can be and since the Coral Gardens are technically in the North Sound, the water was plenty still and gentle even for TJ at 11 years old.  We were the only group there for a bit, then another boat showed up towards the end of our time there but still, it never felt crowded.  After a while, we all loaded back in and headed for Stingray City.

730

Stingray City is really a sand bar.  The water was chest level deep on me and I am just barely 5’1″ tall, so pretty much everyone could stand with no problems.  We all piled out of our boat and the captain and mate went to round up some stingrays for us to pet, feed, and for some of us, kiss.  These stingrays are wild, but conditioned to visitors…they know we carry yummy squid treats.  We were cautioned to not approach from behind and if the stingray wanted to swim away, to let her go, there would be more.  I say “her” because at least for this breed of stingray, the females are the big ones, about four feet across, while the males are much smaller: about 12-18 inches across.

701

This was one of the coolest things I have ever done.  To be up close with these majestic creatures, to touch and feed them and have them all around you in the water was just awesome!  My kids were awestruck as well, even KT was wowed!  It was definitely a bucket list item!

686

We stayed for almost an hour and then loaded back into the boat.  That was supposed to be the end of the excursion, but we were given one more “extra” stop on the way back.  Starfish Point.

As we approached Starfish Point, my immediate thought was that it was one of the most beautiful little islands that I had ever seen.  It was picture perfect, although I could not get a picture that I felt did it justice.  It is what you picture in your head when you hear of a remote Caribbean Island.  Perfect sand, palm trees, clear blue water.

 Starfish Point

 There were huge starfish all along the shallow sand, the captain cautioned everyone not to bring the starfish up out of the water and I don’t think anyone did, but my kids were just thrilled to touch the starfish and see these ginormous things!  They were up to a foot across and all different colors.  I am sorry I didn’t get too many pictures, but KT was refusing to be put down because she didn’t want the sand to touch her feet…sigh.

We returned to Soto’s dock and headed back to the van for the drive back to the port area where we were supposed to meet GM and M.  However, we were over an hour late (although still plenty of time to make “all-aboard”).  We wandered around the port area looking for them with no luck so we figured they had gotten back on board without us, which is exactly what they did and we found them a bit later, no worries.  The icing to this great day in Grand Cayman was that the Immigration Office right at the pier will stamp your passport if you bring it to them.  They were SUPER nice and now KT, OD and TJ all have stamps in their passports!  I really wish all Caribbean nations did this, but so far this is the only one we have had any luck with.

I have a bunch more to tell you about day five, but I think I will stop here for now…more to come!

Freedom Sails…Day 3

IMG_2119
Sunrise over Labadee, Haiti

Today is Tuesday.  Day three of our Freedom of the Seas cruise.  Today we are docking at Labadee, Haiti.  It is commonly called Royal Caribbean’s private island, but that is a misnomer as it is not really an island but the tip of a peninsula that has been gated off for Royal Caribbean’ s use.  Royal Caribbean has built its own little enclave here for its passengers, its kind of a “free” port.  Your seapass cards work here and there are no local excursions to go on so it does not do much for the local economy, but it is a nice beach day.  The last time we were here, OD and TJ did the AquaPark (which they did not like at all), and the Dragons Tail roller coaster (which they loved!).  This time we were just going to hang at the beach and relax with some island drinks, but first we had a special breakfast to attend…THE CHOCOLATE BREAKFAST!

The Chocolate Breakfast is an event (mostly) geared towards the younglings.  The entire menu is chocolate: chocolate donuts, chocolate pancakes, chocolate milk, chocolate shakes, chocolate sauce for dipping, and on and on.  It is a chocoholics dream.  My kids were pretty excited about it too!  Fortunately for those who don’t view chocolate as a food group, there is a selection of “standard” breakfast fare as well.  The other big draw for this event is the appearance of the Dreamworks characters.  Towards the end of the meal, a group of three Dreamworks characters come out and interact with the younglings for dancing and pictures.  Each Character breakfast has different characters that come out to play and there are two character breakfasts on each seven day cruise…we had to go to both, of course!

So there we were, bright and early in the dining room with a gaggle of other weary eyed parents and excited children that had just been promised chocolate for breakfast!!  The younglings could barely stay seated and wolf down chocolate food, they were so excited about seeing the characters.  FINALLY, King Julian, Alex and Gloria from Madagascar came out to meet and greet and dance and sing.  Once KT had seen all of the characters, gotten stickers from all of them and subsequently placed those stickers all over her body, we were ready to go.

Freedom docked in Labadee early, like 8am or something like that.  We were not planning on getting off the ship until 12 or so, so M and I headed to the casino where we both entered the next qualifier for the slot tournament later that afternoon.  We left the ship at around 11:30am and caught the tram to Nellie’s Beach to look for some chairs, hopefully in the shade.  The good thing about leaving so late was that there were people there that had been there for hours already and were headed back to the ship so we were able to grab a group of loungers under the shade of some palm trees.  Overall a great spot…close to the bar (still working that drink package!), and close to the water.

IMG_3349
AquaPark in Labadee, Haiti

We promptly headed for the bar for some famous Labadoozies, but they were out of the mix and waiting for someone to bring them some more so we settled for cold beer in the meantime, vowing to return shortly for the signature drink.  We slathered everyone up in sunscreen and headed into the water.  August in the Caribbean is HOT and the water was only slightly cooler, but mostly clear and completely calm.  KT has entered a phase where she will not touch sand, at all.  But she loves being in the ocean.  So we pretty much stayed in the shallower water so I could stand and still hold her without too much trouble.  The roped off swimming area was crowded, but manageable.  There are other swimming areas available, but we ended up at this one and it was fine.  There are no real waves to speak of so it is fine for little ones.  A bit on the boring side for teenage OD, but relaxing just the same.  Feeling suitably waterlogged, we headed back to the chairs to relax…and of course check on the Labadoozie!

After slurping down a couple (all right, a few) of the signature beverage, we headed back to the ship to get some lunch at the buffet.  Then it was time for some serious napping.  After all, fresh air and sunshine will wear you out!  KT and TJ went to relax and watch a movie, but it was time for M and I to head to the casino for the slot tournament qualifier!  P joined us as our cheering section.

There were several qualifiers throughout the cruise and the top scores would then all compete in one of three semi-finals with the winner of each semi would move on to the finals on Saturday.  If you got knocked down the list of overall qualifiers, you could enter another round and try to better your score.  P was ranked 5th overall, so he was not worried at this point.  The way the qualifier works is the casino sets up specific slot machines, you find the one with your name, when the bell  goes off, you push the button as fast as you can in order to get as many points as possible in the five minutes allotted.

IMG_2176

The starting bell rang and bang, bang, bang, bang.  I started pushing that button for all I was worth.  It seems so simple, but by about three minutes in, my hands and arms were burning and my freshly painted manicure was shot!  The crowd was cheering behind me, but I could only focus on my placement on the big board.  At the end of the five minutes, my arms felt like wet noodles, I needed a drink like no one’s business and…I WON!!  I came in first place in the qualifier and into second place overall.  Not to bad considering I had never touched a slot machine before my Allure cruise two years ago, and I hadn’t touched one since until this cruise.

After all that excitement, we went back to the cabins to change for dinner, had more wonderful cocktails at the Champagne Bar before dinner and FINALLY, had a very good dinner in the Main Dining Room.  Our waiter, Norbert, was finally on point, KT got some AWESOME “green pasta” (spaghetti with pesto), and overall it was a very relaxing dinner. Exactly what we had come to expect on the Freedom, now we wondered what we would get for the rest of the week, hopefully this was a sign of things to come more so than last night!  We ended the night in the Casino as per the norm and headed to bed.

Tomorrow…Falmouth, Jamaica.